At Henderson Biomedical, we often receive enquiries from customers asking what the difference is between calibration vs validation of laboratory equipment. The two terms ‘calibration’ and ‘validation’ often get mixed up. This can be confusing as to what is really required by the user.
In this month’s blog, we take a closer look at the difference between calibration vs validation of laboratory equipment. We try to highlight the difference between the two, so that users don’t get confused.
Calibration is the process whereby one compares a value against a known standard and certifies a specific level of accuracy. For example, one might want to check how accurate the temperature value on a centrifuge is. Just because the display on the centrifuge says 4°C, this does not mean it really is exactly 4°C. One would use an independently calibrated thermometer to verify the values and it could be that the temperature is really 4.5°C.
Of course, any measurement taken is never 100% accurate, so there is always a Measurement of Uncertainty (MoU) factored in. To explain this, let’s say the MoU of the company calibrating the centrifuge is 1.5°C. Therefore, the actual temperature could be as high as 5.5°C or as low as 2.5°C. The lower the MoU of the company performing the calibration, the better, because we can be sure of more accurate results.
Lots of different companies will provide laboratory equipment calibration and they will all have different MoUs. You should check the MoU of the company for the devices they can calibrate. This is normally found on their schedule of accreditation.
In summary, calibration is simply checking how accurate the measurements of the equipment are by comparing it to a known standard. Now we know this, let’s take a look at what laboratory equipment validation.
Conversely, validation is the detailed documented process whereby one is checking that the laboratory equipment is correctly installed, operating as it should be and performing without any errors. A laboratory equipment validation is also sometimes referred to as IQ, OQ, PQ. This stands for Installation Qualification, Operation Qualification and Performance Qualification.
In short, validation (or IQ, OQ, PQ as it is also known as) is the systematic study of verifying whether the laboratory equipment is properly installed and working as it should be.
Typically, it is quicker to perform a calibration than it is to perform a validation. Some validation procedures can take several hours as multiple aspects of the equipment need to be verified and checked. As such, validation is usually more expensive than calibration.
Below is a summary of the main differences between calibration and validation:
|Definition||Comparing a value (such as temperature or speed) of the device against a known standard.||A documented process that confirms that the equipment is working as it should be.|
|Principle objective||To check that the equipment is performing accurately.||To check that the equipment can produce consistent results.|
|Why do you need it?||It may be a requirement of your own quality standard to have your equipment properly calibrated.|
Ensures that the equipment is performing accurately.
|It will minimise defects and ensure consistent results of whatever you are producing.|
Henderson Biomedical is an ISO 17025:2017 accredited company and therefore, we are able to calibrate a range of different types of laboratory equipment. For full details on the type of equipment we can calibrate, please consult our UKAS schedule.
We are also able to perform validation on a range of different types of laboratory equipment.
For more details on how Henderson Biomedical can calibrate and validate your laboratory equipment, please use our online form or give us a call on 020 8663 4610.